My fellow baggage claimers! The carousel will start spinning in 12-15 minutes, so I wanted to give you some pointers on how to best handle yourself in this situation.
You’ve already done a great job being so alert, despite there being absolutely nothing to accomplish for the next 12-15 minutes. Why sit down and relax, check your messages, or just be a human being in that time. Your luggage might pass you by. Stay vigilant!
First, jockey for position. There are at least 100 people on this flight, and 40 of them checked a bag. So it’s incredibly important for everyone to jam in to the front of the carousel, even though if everyone spaced themselves out, this would go a lot quicker. Sure, you could just casually walk to the first open spot along the carousel, thus ensuring you won’t miss your bag, and allowing you to walk from the carousel to the exit much quicker. But then someone else might touch their bag before you touch yours!
Once you’ve boxed everyone else out (including the people who have checked boxes), be ready to pick up every bag that looks remotely like yours. Despite you having held the bag in your hands just four hours ago, maybe you’ve forgotten what it looks like. Maybe what you thought said “Delsey” actually said “Tumi”, even though you and I both know you could never afford a bag that expensive.
While you’re at it, pick up the bags that also don’t look entirely like yours. Is it a different shape? Is it a different color? Is it a cardboard box with a handle made of tape? Then it still may be yours. Who is to say there wasn’t some stowaway in the cargo area furiously painting all the bags? Look at each bag, just in case. That’s why they call it checking your luggage.
Once you do have a bag that is probably not yours, it’s best not to read the luggage tag to see if your name is on it. Who knows if the airlines were accurate when they tagged your bag in front of you. The easiest way to make sure is to open it and make sure the contents of it are not yours. Hey, if someone wanted that stuff to be private, they’d have carried it on the plane with them. And if no one stops you, you may even get to keep some of the stuff if you just say it’s yours. That’s why they call it baggage claim.
If the bag you chose is locked, struggle with the lock for a few seconds, even if your bag never had a lock on it. Perhaps the TSA, in an effort to protect us all, locked your bag as a precaution. You can never be too careful, and neither can they.
As you determine that everyone else’s bag is not your bag, throw each one back on the belt in a haphazard manner. Sure, if you placed them carefully on the belt nothing would be damaged, and the belt wouldn’t get clogged and slow down. But then you wouldn’t be sure if you’ve already inspected that particular bag. Which you should do a second time and third time, just in case.
By now, your bag has probably passed by while you were looking through its imposters. Make sure to run up and down the length of the carousel, exasperatedly looking for your missing bag. As you’re running, don’t worry about bumping into people. Just make sure that when you do, it is forceful and with your shoulder. That’s why they call checking your luggage.
Finally you will see your bag, because every rational person around you has already removed theirs from the equation. When you do finally see it, make sure to ironically mutter something about how terrible society is and how if people cared about one another the world would be a better place. Because if you actually accepted responsibility for your own actions, you wouldn’t have cognitive dissonance. And you need cognitive dissonance to vote for political candidates against your own interest and then complain about what they do once they’re in office. And that sort of malarkey makes you happy.
Angrily drag your bag into your loved ones car, while complain that they weren’t there to pick you up on time (even though they were, but had to circle because of your bag shenanigans). As you’re complaining about the favor they did for you, stay bitter enough to also ruin your loved one’s mood. Destroying their day is a victimless crime. It’s like pushing an old person into traffic. No one gets hurt, except for someone who is not you.
Failing all that, just patiently wait for your bag to come out, pick it up calmly, and walk away like an adult with basic life skills.